Cyprus faces energy crisis after deadly blast

A blast at a naval base in Cyprus on Monday that killed 12 people and injured over 60 may also sink the country into an energy crisis, the Ministry of Finance warned yesterday.

The explosion, which began with a bush fire spreading to an area where large quantities of confiscated ammunitions and explosives were being kept, also took out the island?s main power station, located in the area of Vassiliko on the outskirts of Limassol, disrupting power supplies.

Commerce Minister Antonis Paschalides called the blast a ?tragedy of Biblical dimensions? for the small Mediterranean island.

Massive damage was caused to homes in the nearby village of Mari, forcing the evacuation of its 150 residents.

According to a statement from the Electricity Authority of Cyprus on Tuesday, reduced capacity in the Vassiliko plant, which covers 60 percent of Cyprus?s supply, will mean power cuts in various parts of the island as repairs get underway. But, the authority?s chairman Charis Thrassou warned, the repairs will take months maybe even years to complete and may cost in excess of one billion euros.

According to the Finance Ministry?s statement, the power plant, which cost 1.5 billion euros to build and was only recently completed, is partially owned by the state, which will have to foot a significant part of the bill for its repair as the insurance will not cover the entire amount.

Cypriots meanwhile, are being urged to save energy and water to ensure that businesses, hotels and industry can keep going, especially as this is peak holiday season. Water supplies have also been affected by the blast as the island?s desalination plants had to be shut down and a rationing system introduced.

Greece said yesterday that it will be sending a mobile generator to help the island cope with the power shortage.

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